Position Statement Regarding the Use of Crumb Rubber

The benefits of recycling scrap tires have become clouded recently by media claims that recycled rubber may be harmful to people and the environment. 

In response to these claims, TIA’s Environmental Advisory Council conducted an extensive review of the testing performed in the United States and overseas regarding the health and environmental effects of using crumb rubber.  We found that in every evaluation, researchers reached the same conclusion: Crumb rubber used in artificial turf or as a playground surface poses no significant health or environmental risk.

The research conducted by the EAC included more than 60 technical studies, field testing performed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, tests conducted by state departments in New York, Connecticut and California as well as laboratory evaluations at the University of California at Berkeley.  

Each of these studies validated the position that crumb rubber poses no significant health or environmental risk. The EPA evaluation which included samples from multiple locations in different parts of the country, specifically stated that,   “concentrations of materials in tire crumb rubber are below levels considered harmful.” 

For these reasons, the EAC and TIA support the continued use of crumb rubber in synthetic turf, athletic fields and playgrounds as well as other product applications. We found the media claims to be unsubstantiated and not supported by any scientific evidence. Public speculation, concern from parents and government officials has led to scientific scrutiny and in each case, crumb rubber has been absolved from false condemnation.

Despite this body of scientific evidence, two new research efforts were launched recently in response to the ongoing media reports raising concerns about potential human health effects of crumb rubber.

In June 2015, CalRecycle, the agency that regulates tire recycling in California, commissioned a three-year, $2.6 million dollar study to be conducted by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard assessment (OEHHA). The study aims to identify and evaluate possible chemical hazards presented by human exposure to crumb rubber.  The study will also consider possible avenues of exposure to tire crumb including, breathing, accidental ingestion and skin contact.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a joint research project Feb. 12 that is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.  The objectives of the research are to determine key knowledge gaps; identify and characterize the chemical compounds found in tire crumb and how people are exposed to those compounds.

TIA and its members continue to welcome and support all additional scientific research.  At the same time, the association reaffirms its finding that existing studies show crumb rubber used in artificial turf or as a playground surface poses no significant health or environmental risk.

Today, crumb rubber is used in a number of innovative applications, including synthetic turf, athletic fields, decorative landscaping, and playground surfacing. These applications of crumb rubber provide numerous benefits.

It cushions falls and reduces sports injuries when compared to other playground or athletic surfaces. In addition, synthetic turf is a low maintenance alternative to natural grass because there is no need to water, fertilize or use pesticides.

In addition to these positive performance characteristics, crumb rubber is a perfect example of a beneficial reuse for scrap tire material.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is dedicated to helping ensure the safety of consumers and installers who interface with tires and related products. Our well-designed training programs for industry professionals cover all aspects of tire service and performance.

Similarly, TIA is concerned about the health and safety of consumers who use recycled tire products. The recycled rubber industry has been around for many years and the products made from recycled rubber are an integral part of the world around us. We encourage consumers to know the facts about recycled rubber and not be misled by claims that have no scientific basis.

Consumers and industry stakeholders who want to learn more about this subject should visit the following websites that provide specific research and information regarding the health and safety of crumb rubber.

Tire Industry Association: www.tireindustry.org

Synthetic Turf Council: www.syntheticturfcouncil.org

Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries: www.isri.org

Rubber Manufacturers Association: www.rma.org

Recycled Rubber Council: www.recycledrubbercouncil.org